Tory Brexit rivals urge rebel MPs to back Theresa May in crunch Commons votes
Former Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan Smith have joined forces to call on rebel Conservative MPs to back Theresa May on the Brexit bill or risk bringing down the Government.
Ms Rudd, a vocal Remainer during the EU referendum, and prominent Brexiteer Mr Duncan Smith said it was a “no-brainer” that MPs should vote with the frontbench ahead of key votes on the flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.
“We both agree that every Conservative should march in lockstep behind the Prime Minister as she delivers on the vote,” they said in an open letter published in the Sunday Telegraph.
“The EU Withdrawal Bill… is not about competing visions of the future, but about ensuring legal certainty at our point of departure.
“For Conservatives of every outlook, giving our full support to the Government this week should be a no-brainer. The Commons backed the Withdrawal Bill at Third Reading with a clear majority.
“Not a single Conservative voted against it.”
It marks the first major public intervention on Brexit by Ms Rudd since she was forced to quit as Home Secretary over the Windrush scandal in April.
The plea comes amid fears the Government could lose key amendments, including an attempt to hand MPs the power to decide the course of action to take if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
The Commons will also vote on whether to pile pressure on Mrs May to negotiate a customs union with the EU, despite her policy being to give the UK full control over trade after Brexit.
Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats are thought to need only around a dozen Tories to join them in their bid to strike a massive blow to the PM’s Brexit strategy.
Ms Rudd and Mr Duncan Smith added that failure to stand united would risk allowing Labour, which backs staying in a customs union, to take advantage of the situation.
“Jeremy Corbyn will do everything he can to stop us," they warned.
“That includes cynically trying to frustrate the Brexit process for his own political ends."
Elsewhere, a former minister who backs staying in the customs union and single market reportedly said talk of a rebellion had cooled due to fears bringing down Mrs May could allow the hard Brexiteers to seize the party.
“It is a political calculation,” they told the Observer.
“If we were to defeat her on that now, does that further weaken her and give the European Research Group [led by Jacob Rees-Mogg] more opportunities to stick their knife into her? That is not where we want to be.”